Sunday, December 30, 2007

Simulation Work at NM Tech

Professor, students work on computer simulation

Argen Duncan El Defensor Chieftain Reporter,

Organizations can predict what people will think and what influences those opinions, courtesy of a New Mexico Tech computer simulation.

Associate Professor of Management Peter Anselmo and students are developing and working to market an interactive computer simulation that outputs an opinion.

Such organizations as marketing companies and political groups need to talk to people to get opinions, and the Remote Interactive Simulation Engine could replace focus group meetings.

It also has potential for remotely training groups of people.

The program deals with whom people talk to and how they share opinions within their social networks.

"That has an impact on our opinions of things," Anselmo said.

With the computer program, live people can remotely participate in simulations with certain other individuals to allow researchers to study the effect on the output opinion of the structure of those networks, the way information is presented and what facts are exchanged.

"This is kind of a hot topic now," Anselmo said.

Duke City Fix on Ning

Duke City Fix
, an Albuquerque focused blog, made the move to several weeks ago. (Ning is a fairly new free online service for creating, customizing and sharing Social Networks that was co-founded by Netscape founder Marc Andreesen.)

Duke City Fix has been pretty prominent in New Mexico's blogging community, and was recently featured on Ning's own community blog -- it's still on the Ning front page at the moment.

Duke City Fix makes me want to roadtrip to Albuquerque, NM. I found out about it from this article in the New Mexico Business Journal which I found out from, well, the Internet.

The focus of Duke City Fix is on local blogs - including a really comprehensive blogroll put together using our Page feature - groups, and discussions. They do a beautiful presentation of Flickr for photos from the Main page. If they wanted, they could also set up Flickr importing directly into Duke City Fix, but it looks great and they have an established Flickr community, so if it ain't broke, don't fix it.

Chantal created Duke City Fix and her profile has the best summary of why she loves Albuquerque:

I love Albuquerque's long history and rough edges -- the chaos, the culture, the hole-in-the-wall eateries. I also love supposedly "bad" neighborhoods and anything off the menu that people call "strange."

That just rocks. The opportunity for local social networks is a pretty profound one and - with two and a half years under their belt as a blog - Duke City Fix is an inspiration.

Chantal and the group seem to get the real possibility of using today's technologies for connecting people and building community.

Friday, December 28, 2007

NM Media 2007 Wrap-Up (& MISP)

By all accounts, it's been a great year for New Mexico's Film and Media Industries, with production, income and employment all up, more locally shot work hitting the screens and students beginning to graduate from programs ushered in with the state's Media Industries Strategic Plan a few years ago.

For portion of what's going on with all that, you might be interested in the 4th Annual Media Industries Conference: "Media Industries 4 New Mexico's Future" (also known as the "MISP" Conference, for New Mexico's Media Industries Strategic Plan). It'll run Saturday this time, January 12th at UNM's Student Union Building from 9am - 5pm.

We've got an exciting line-up with Maggie Macnab on Design, Making NM's Incentives Work, Indie Filmmaking Essentials, Animation, Game Development and Education sessions (and more). The event is free, but registration is required (Click here to Register). More info at the ARTS Lab site as well.

NM Business Weekly: New Mexico's Close-Up
by Megan Kamerick

Ann Lerner can barely repress her excitement in looking back on 2007.

"It's unbelievable!" said Lerner, director of the city of Albuquerque's film office.

Lerner used to read the list in MovieMaker Magazine each year with the top 10 cities to live, work and make movies and dream of seeing the Duke City among the metro areas. She got her wish this year when Albuquerque appeared in the No. 4 position.

Anyone who has spent time in downtown Albuquerque in the past year could barely avoid running across a film or television production. The apex of this activity came with "Game," the biggest production to hit the Duke City yet.

With a local spend of about $18.8 million, according to the State Investment Council, the film built an entire set on Silver Avenue of shipping containers and a three-story facade that was then progressively blown up on a regular basis. There was even a huge fireball on Civic Plaza. The futuristic film stars Gerard Butler of "300" and Kyra Sedgewick of the television program "The Closer."

And a number of other cities around New Mexico got their own close-ups as well, with production spread from Lordsburg to Las Vegas and points north. New Mexico was the backdrop for a number of high-profile films this year, including "No Country For Old Men," "Wild Hogs," "In the Valley of Elah" and "3:10 to Yuma."

The state also was in the international spotlight when the Association of Film Commissioners International held its annual "cineposium" in Santa Fe in August. Keynote speaker Taylor Hackford spoke highly of New Mexico's film incentives and is now in pre-production for his next film, "Love Ranch," starring his wife, actress Helen Mirren.

The sizable budget of "Game" (about $50 million) capped off a year of 34 major feature film and television productions shooting or starting production in the state. Total economic impact was $479.7 million for fiscal year 2007 (July 1, 2006 to June 30, 2007), up from $443.4 million in FY 2006 and $208.2 million in FY 2005. Year to date as of October, the impact had already reached $170.3 million. The number of film worker days has risen to 173,376 in FY2007 from 101,645 in FY 2005.
The opening of Albuquerque Studios in early 2007, with six sound stages and two more in the works, in the Mesa del Sol project south of the Albuquerque International Sunport opened up the market to larger productions, particularly those with special production needs like green screen work, which is one reason "The Spirit" was filmed at the ABQ Studios this fall. The Frank Miller-directed picture is based on a graphic novel and stars Samuel L. Jackson. A number of ancillary businesses have moved into ABQ Studios, including Stunt Facilities Southwest, payroll and rebate service Axiom, and Star Waggons, said Nick Smerigan, chief operating officer for the studios.

The possibility of another studio also popped up near the end of the year. New Mexico Film Studios is a project slated for the former ¡Traditions! site on Interstate 25 between Albuquerque and Santa Fe. If that deal closes, construction could begin in January.

A New Jersey firm, WorldScape, plans to put post production facilities at that studio and is also building a new immersive theater in Los Alamos. And Sony Pictures Imageworks broke ground on a new building in Mesa del Sol for a facility that will boost New Mexico's post-production capabilities and its animation infrastructure.

Also from the NM Business Weekly:
Picture Imperfect: Sectors Shine, Decline
by Megan Kamerick

The film industry was the brightest spot in economic development in 2007, say state experts, and despite layoffs at Intel and the national labs, New Mexico continues to have low unemployment and healthy growth.

The booming film industry helped push employment growth in the information sector to a 5.6 percent increase, or 900 jobs, in the third quarter. Growth at T-Mobile, Verizon and Comcast contributed to that number, according to the Bureau of Business and Economic Research at the University of New Mexico. Film growth would not have happened without tax incentives passed by the Legislature, said Larry Waldman, senior research scientist with BBER. They have resulted in the state paying out at least $30 million in credits this year, he said.

"But the idea is to get the film cluster here," he added. And that is happening -- with the opening of Albuquerque Studios, plans for another studio at the ¡Traditions! site on I-25 and the creation of a program in digital media at UNM.

BBER also issued a comprehensive survey on the impact of the arts and cultural industries in Bernalillo County this fall. It found those sectors generated $1.2 billion in revenues in 2004, $413 million in wages and 19,500 jobs (6 percent of all employment in the county). And half this activity was funded by dollars from outside the region.


Credited by nearly everyone as the centerpiece for New Mexico's success in this area is our incentives and, in particular, our rebate program.

From the Las Cruces Sun-News:

The Taxation and Revenue Department paid $30 million in the first four months of fiscal year 2008, which began in July, to cover rebates paid to filmmakers, according to the committee.

That's up from $17 million for all of 2007, Abbey said.

If that trend continues, Abbey said, the payouts could grow to $100 million in 2009—far exceeding estimates of $30 million that New Mexico film industry backers have made to legislators in the past.

Eric Witt, director of media arts and industry development in the governor's office, said any increase in rebate payouts would be proportional to the increased revenues the state receives in the form of gross receipts, corporate and personal income taxes.

"They may be paying out more, but that means they're bringing in more," he said.

There are some important distinctions here.
First, our rebate percentage is near the top of those offered nationally.
Second, and nearly as important, is their ease of use. As a rebate (not a credit), the producers know how much they're getting money back on every in-state expenditure. Additionally, unlike some states, our rules are really clear, and dozens of companies have used them -- as a result productions can avoid unpleasant surprises with real budget figures from day one.

From the Albuquerque Journal:
Incentive programs include a 25 percent tax rebate on all film expenditures subject to taxation by the state, loans of up to $15 million per project, with back-end participation instead of interest, and no state sales tax (an option that can't be used with the tax rebate).
New Mexico's programs are "clean, simple and directly accessible by productions themselves," Witt said. "I think that's key to going forward."


Nearly as important as our Rebate program to visiting productions is the availability of skilled crew and production staff and incentives for hiring and training New Mexicans. It's also essential to growing our broader media industries.

From the Albuquerque Journal:

Work-force training was singled out by some of the panelists as an important initiative.
Currently, the state provides a 50 percent wage reimbursement for on-the-job training of New Mexico residents in advanced below-the-line, or technical, positions. The program requires that New Mexico-based supervisors serve as mentors to the trainees.
During the past several years, the number of New Mexico residents qualified to work on sets has grown from 60 or 70 people to about 1,300, the panelists said.
With work-force initiatives, "that's where we're the leader in the country," Strout said.
Those programs, as well as a push for increased higher education offerings related to film and television productions, give New Mexico an advantage over states who "just pop in a rebate or tax incentive," in their film programs, Witt said.


From the NM Business Weekly:
It's been a great year for Novint Technologies Inc.

After more than three years of research and development, the Albuquerque company launched its "Falcon" 3-D game controller on the market last June.

The device -- built with technology from Sandia National Laboratories -- integrates a sense of touch, or "haptics," with 3-D computer graphics, allowing PC gamers to feel the blast of a gun or the swipe of a sword.

Thousands of Falcons are available on store shelves coast-to-coast thanks to distribution agreements that Novint signed with big retail chains, including CompUSA and Fry's Electronics. The company has ramped up its workforce from 15 last January to 32 now, and is moving into a new, 4,300-square-foot office with a small storefront near Cottonwood Mall.

"Falcon sales are going extremely well," said Novint CEO Tom Anderson. "A number of stores have sold out on the device. We're poised for a lot of growth next year."

Like Novint, dozens of New Mexico high-tech startups came of age in 2007, either by launching their products after years of R&D or by expanding operations with fresh investments from venture capitalists...

Also of interest here is Worldscape (mentioned above), an immersive imaging company with deals announced with Los Alamos National Labs and a production facility scheduled for New Mexico Film Studios at the ¡Traditions! site.

As Radical Entertainment CEO Kelly Zmak said during his talk for the Albuquerque Game Developers Association Chapter, these developments (along with business, government and education working together) are important to creating the conditions where a media industry can thrive. Growing an ecosystem with skilled people working in movies, games, aerospace and other media and technology related sectors creates both a pool of potential employees and helps mitigate downturns in any particular area.

Friday, December 21, 2007

Beer For My Horses Announced

Governor Bill Richardson Announces Beer For My Horses to be filmed in New Mexico

SANTA FE—Governor Bill Richardson today announced that Beer For My Horses, a feature film starring country music star Toby Keith (Broken Bridges), and Rodney Carrington (Rodney TV series) will be shot in New Mexico. Multi-award winner Michael Saloman will direct. Toby Keith, Donald Zuckerman (Not Forgotten currently prepping in Santa Fe, Broken Bridges) , and local New Mexican Brent Morris (Monster, Smoke Signals) will produce the film. T.K. Kimbrell will be the Executive Producer.

The film will be shot in Santa Fe, Las Vegas, and other north-central New Mexico locations from February 10 through March 13, 2008. The film expects to hire approximately 75 New Mexico crew members, 25 SAG principal roles and 350 background talent.

Beer For My Horses tells the story of two best friends that work together as deputies in a small town. The two defy the Sheriff and head off on an outrageous road trip to save the protagonist’s girlfriend from drug lord kidnappers.

Since Governor Richardson took office, over 85 feature film and television projects have been shot in the state, adding over $1.4 billion dollars to New Mexico’s economy.

Friday, December 14, 2007

Serious Games Update

Coming on the heels of the NM Higher Education Summit (12/5), the HTC sponsored Digital Media Summit in Las Cruces, and last night's Rio Grande IGDA meet-up, it's more evident than ever that the area of serious games offers great potential for New Mexico. Work in areas similar to what's described below is already happening locally, and the possibilities for application in health/biotech, clean energy, aerospace -- and other high priority fields are tremendous.

The US Army has founded a new project office for games that will focus on training simulators.
The new project office is called TPO Gaming, short for Training and Doctrine Command’s (TRADOC) Project Office for Gaming, and is part of TRADOC’s National Simulation Center at Fort Leavenworth, Kan.

TPO Gaming hopes to fulfill certain elements of soldiers’ training needs—needs that some soldiers are satisfying at the local Best Buy, reports TSJOnline.

“Units should not have to spend training dollars to purchase training simulations,” said Brig. Gen. Thomas Maffey, who’s the training director at the Pentagon. “If Army units are expending training funds to purchase games, there is probably an unfilled training requirement.”

TPO Gaming is developing a toolkit that soldiers will be able to use themselves to create combat training scenarios. The toolkit is still a ways off, as it’s slated for release sometime between 2010 and 2015.

“We will focus on the visualization piece of those technologies, not so much the entertainment piece,” said TPO Gaming’s director Col. Jack Millar.

Currently, TPO Gaming is focusing on FPS and RTS games, although it may expand into other genres.

While there are plenty of war videogames available to everyday consumers, TPO Gaming doesn’t believe that any fill the requirements of a true simulation.

Millar said that aside from being immersive, the simulations should be “scalable, feature an intuitive interface, model behavior at the entity level, contain an after-action review capability and allow easy distribution.”

While military and federal research once drove fields like graphics and high end computing (New Mexico was once home of one of the largest, most active SIGGRAPH Chapters before CGI Animation and Game Development really took off), the needs of business in fields like Bio (Health, Tech, Big Pharma), Oil & Gas, and enterprise level IT are, let's say, considerable markets as well.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Duke City Shootout 2007 Up Now @ Crackle!

They're up!

Full Disclosure: I'm a Board Member with DFI, which produces the Shootout -- and UNM's ARTS Lab is a long time supporter -- along with Intel, the State of New Mexico, City of Albuquerque, IATSE, Apple and many others. At least three of the movies this year involved use of the ARTS Lab Green Screen and heavy use of compositing and visual effects -- especially for seven days of production and post.

They're up at Sony's Crackle -- and already racking up some some good numbers.

Visit the page here:
Subscribe, and let us know what you think.


Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Santa Fe Film Festival Winners Announced

From the NM Business Weekly...

Santa Fe Film Festival names winners

New Mexico Business Weekly - by Megan Kamerick NMBW Staff

A film about a rebellious young woman growing up in Iran won the Best of the Fest award at the 8th annual Santa Fe Film Festival.

"Persepolis" was co-directed by Vincent Paronnaud and Marjane Satrapi. TheFilm Festival animated feature was made in France. The Best Documentary award went to "Ballad of Esequiel Hernandez," about a goat herder shot and killed by American soldiers patrolling the Texas/Mexico border.

Best Short went to Australian filmmaker Darlene Johnson for her film "Crocodile Dreaming," which focuses on two Aborigine brothers who bond through the spirit of their mother. It was presented by National Geographic's All Roads Film Project.

The Audience Choice award went to "JUMP!," an account of young athletes competing in a national jump roping contest. What might be the first woodcut motion picture, "The Jackleg Testament: Part One, Jack and Eve," won Best Animation.

The Best Indigenous film award went to "Miss Navajo," which showcases the tribe's tradition-oriented pageant. Contestants are tested on everything from their knowledge of Navajo history to their skills butchering sheep.

"The Replacement Child" won the Best Editing award and "Finding Kraftland" won Best Creative Spirit award.

The Tamalewood award for best New Mexico-made film went to Albuquerque filmmaker Billy Garberina's "Necroville," about a pair of slackers who take on zombies.

The Best of the Southwest award went to "Off the Grid: Life on the Mesa," about a renegade community in northern New Mexico.

"The Longing: Forgotten Jews of South America" won the Best Latino award. And the raucous road movie "Two Tickets to Paradise," picked up the Independent Spirit award.

Festival organizers estimate they sold about 20,000 tickets over the five-day event, which brought in more national sponsors this year as well. The festival presented about 250 films and collaborated with National Geographic as well as the New York Jewish Film Festival and the Kids First! Film Festival.

Celebrity presenters at the awards ceremony included Alan Arkin, Gary Farmer, Jihmi Kennedy, Wes Studi, Ali McGraw and Raoul Trujillo. | 348-8323

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Showbuzz @ the Santa fe Film Festival

Local filmmaker Betsy Burke made it to the CBS Showbuzz site for her 48 Hour Film Project piece, "Teardrop" which showed at the Santa Fe Film Festival's New Mexico Film Expo.

Showbuzz gave some great coverage to the festival -- you can check it all out here:

...Screenwriter Betsy Burke sat down with The ShowBuzz to explain how the film was made - from concept to finish - in just 48 hours.

Q: Tell me about "Teardrop."

A: It's about a piano prodigy who gets an idea to rescue her grandfather from a stuck life and also her piano teacher, who's in a deep depression.

The remarkable thing about the film is we did it through the 48 Hour Film Project. It's an international contest that centers in major cities, in the States, and a few cities in Europe and a few in Asia even, and you have 48 hours to make a film.

Q: What's the process like?

A: You sign up Friday night at 7:00 p.m. and they give you a genre, a character, a line of dialog and a prop you have to use. You write the film, shoot it, edit it, and turn it in by Sunday at 7:00 p.m.

So, I have some filmmaking friends and we've worked together a couple of times before and they asked if I wanted to join the team and I almost didn't do it because I thought, "What could you do in 48 hours?"

Q: How did it turn out?

We really pulled it off and it came out amazing. My friend just bought a new high def camera and he was all hot to try it out and it looks beautiful. I won best writer and it won seven awards, it swept the 48 Hour Film Project New Mexico awards. It was shockingly good how it came out.

Q: Why did you enter it in the Santa Fe Film Festival?

A: Well we just did it this summer so we're just starting to ramp up and get it in festivals. So we thought we'd start here in our home base. More than the screening I think it's just about meeting people. I love meeting people from all over the world and I try to get to see the international films and things that I can't see at the theater or things I can't rent. I really try to catch the more obscure things.

Q: Are there a lot more filmmakers coming to the festival than in previous years?

A: I think so. I've met a lot of Los Angeles transplants and I think there are a lot of people that were born and raised here that are getting excited about it.

Monday, December 3, 2007

3D & Immersive Talk at the Santa Fe Film Festival

One of the interesting topics covered at last week's Santa Fe Film Festival was the increasing adoption of 3D and immersive technology by Hollywood, and New Mexico's potential role as the Visualization group at Los Alamos National Labs and others try to take advantage of this opportunity.
Check out the latest in the Los Alamos Monitor: Immerse yourself

By ROGER SNODGRAS, Monitor Assistant Editor

SANTA FE – A town that not so long ago had to live without any movie theaters may be about to make up for lost time in a big way.

Los Alamos is a front runner to become the location for the world’s first Immersive Visualization Theater.

Peter Rogina, president of WorldScape Inc., said he has begun discussions with Los Alamos Commerce and Development Corporation with an eye to installing a new multi-dimensional immersion facility in the Research Park. The theater would be located outside the security perimeter and adjacent to the main administrative buildings at Los Alamos National Laboratory.

Rogina said the theater could be a major new attraction for the county.
“To use a Star Wars analogy,” he said, “it would be the world’s first holodeck.”
The holodeck, a geek icon, enabled crewmembers in the television series to fuse imagination and reality.

Rogina appeared on a panel Saturday presented by the Santa Fe Film Festival on “Entering the Third Dimension,” about new 3-D media technologies.

Moderator Peter Warzel, senior vice president of Veriana Networks, introduced the participants and what he called the “hot topic” and “hot product” of the hour, 3-D and immersive imaging technologies.

“These technologies are moving beyond the big screen, conceptually, if not in fact,” he said. “Everything will be 3-D from now on.”

Rogina’s company is putting together a partnership that involves the laboratory’s Tech Transfer Division and the New Mexico Film Studios.

Steve Stringer, an Industrial Fellow at the lab, also participated in the panel. He was involved in creating the laboratory’s visualization room in the Nicholas C. Metropolis Center for Modeling and Simulation.

The “Cave,” as it is known, is one of the highest resolution visualization spaces in the world It links 33 stereoscopic digital projectors to provide a 43-million-pixel display on and within three walls and the floor and ceiling.

Warzel, who is a former president and chief operating officer of United Artists Theaters noted the dramatic box office success of the 3-D version of the Robert Zemecki’s new “Beowulf” movie.

“The 3-D version is being shown on 20 percent of the screens and bringing in 40 percent of the revenue,” he said. “Is it a drive to higher ticket prices by providing a different experience, or is it the wave of the future?”

Read the full article here: Immerse Yourself

Sunday, December 2, 2007

Activision & Vivendi merge to become Activision Blizzard

From Games Industry Biz: Activision Blizzard deal valued at $18.9 billion

Activision and Vivendi Games are to merge, becoming the world's largest independent videogame publisher, in a deal valued at USD 18.9 billion

The new company, Activision Blizzard, now boasts a portfolio bursting with some of the top-selling videogame franchises including Blizzard's World of Warcraft, Starcraft and Diablo, Vivendi's Crash Bandicoot and Spyro and Activision's Guitar Hero, Call of Duty and the Tony Hawk series.


"This alliance is a major strategic step for Vivendi and is another illustration of our drive to extend our presence in the entertainment sector," commented Jean Bernard Levy, CEO of Vivendi.

"The combined strength of the existing management teams at both companies will set the stage for further profitable growth of Activision Blizzard.

"We look forward to being an active and supportive majority stockholder in a company that is poised to lead the worldwide interactive entertainment industry in the years ahead," he said.

Shares of Vivendi Games will be converted into 295.3 million new shares of Activision, which values Vivendi Games at USD 8.1 billion. Vivendi will also purchase 62.9 million newly issued shares in Activision for USD 1.7 billion in cash.

"By joining forces with Vivendi Games, we will become the immediate leader in the highly profitable online games business and gain a large footprint in the rapidly growing Asian markets, including China and Korea, while maintaining our leading operating performance across North America and Europe," he added.


Activision also said that it will now have access to Universal Music Group, the world's largest music company, "which will benefit Guitar Hero and further extend our sizeable leadership position in music-based games."

On Set: GAME in Albuquerque

We've seen and heard bits and pieces of what's been happening with Game -- and it looks like we're beginning to get coverage (Spirit has been getting a ton from fans of Frank Miller, Comic Books and much more).

No matter how exciting the film at hand, being on a film set can often be a dull and tedious process. And yet, there was something extremely satisfying about being on the set of the upcoming action sci-fi flick from CRANK creators Mark Neveldine and Brian Taylor, tentatively titled GAME. Perhaps it was the warning of a crewmember as he yelled, "Falling body parts!" followed by a smattering of limbs being exploded into the air, as well as their eventual collapse onto the automotive wreckage below.

Normally studios set it up so that any observational visits to a set happen on an uneventful day of shooting. But based on my experience with the obviously action-packed GAME, I'm guessing no day of shooting will be without its fair share of explosions and body bags. This makes me all the more fortunate to be able to fill you in on the awesomeness of the sequence that was currently being shot.



Lionsgate took the liberty of flying us out to Albuquerque, New Mexico, where filming is currently taking place (they were on day 9 of a 53 day shoot when we showed up). After enjoying the fine dining of the hotel we were set up in, a van came to pick us up and take us to the set. As we neared the location, off in the distance was what looked to be a stadium, with a metal ceiling covering the top. Dust clouds were emanating from the inside.

We hopped out of the van to get a closer look.

The entire set was covered in mounds of dirt. Wooden spiked barriers covered in barbed wire were littered across the arena, as were about half a dozen broken down cars, many of which were set ablaze. BMX bikers darted up and around the scene as a geared up Gerard Butler stood menacingly with his gun ready to fire. And then, an explosion. The fire launched full blast into the air, debris flying everywhere, and the temperature rising exponentially for about three seconds. It was at this point I realized, "This film is gonna kick ass."

Twenty feet away they had a collection of monitors showing the take being filmed, but the directors were up close and personal on set, with Mark Neveldine operating the camera.

Surrounding the area were backlit white sheets, which we were told would later be turned into holographic advertisements. It will be interesting to see whether they go with brand-name products, or something made up. At any rate, it was confirmed they'd at least be "exotic," probably giving off the vibe of those whacked out commercials you might see in Japan.

Also occupying the set were a small group of extras playing Genericons (discussed above), spread across bleachers on the sidelines. Additionally, we were informed that everything surrounding the arena would all be CGI'd in later, basically having the prisoners battle in a confined, isolated part of the city.

Having just finished one of his takes, Gerard Butler rose from the storm of dust and removed his army vest. The just recorded dailies played back on the monitors as he chugged down a cup of coffee, watching attentively. It's looking good. He then proceeded to gear up again and get right back into the action.

A bit later, writers/directors Mark Neveldine and Brian Taylor also made their way to the monitors, reviewing previously shot footage. Recognizing a couple of the other journalists (Peter from, and Alex from, they asked us how we were doing. "Haven't seen you before," Mark pointed out as he bumped fists with me. Apparently, they had a private party with a bunch of the online journalists at one of the past Comic Cons. Looks like I've been missing out. These are definitely the kind of guys you'd wanna chill and drink a beer with.


Available to answer some of the other questions we had was Executive Producer David Rubin, who kicked things off by discussing one of the other major battle sequences in the film.

Rubin: Did you guy get a chance to drive through downtown at all? We built this big structure down town, on the four corners. We are going to destroy it in the middle of one of the battles. This is right in the middle of downtown. Albuquerque had four corners that were vacant. Which is strange to see in the middle of a city. We took advantage of that, and we built a set. One of the major battles takes place in what we call "Container City". It's kind of exciting. We just shot the beginning of that battle last weekend.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Stars Make a Difference: Jake Gyllenhaal

At the Jake Gyllenhaal fansite Wet Dark & Wild, we have just a few more signs of the PR value of having quite a few lead actors in New Mexico.

Shooting "Brothers" near Santa Fe (with Tobey Maguire and Natalie Portman), Jake's avid fans responded nicely to pictures of Santa fe and talk of the Santa Fe Film Festival. More at the site: Wet Dark & Wild

The Santa Fe Film Festival

Just one day after filming on Brothers begins next week (27 November) in Santa Fe, New Mexico, the Santa Fe Film Festival begins, running through to 2 December. Modelling itself to some degree perhaps on TIFF, the exceptionally fine Toronto Festival, the eighth Santa Fe Film Festival 'showcases more than 80 programs encompassing roughly 200 films, shorts and features of all genres, themes and topics. The festival is divided into seven series: Independent Spirits, Making it Reel, Eye on the World, Art Matters, Southwest Showcase and Gala films from the major distributors as well as retrospective titles drawn from the careers of our annual Luminaria Tributees. Last year, over 7,000 attendees from around the world purchased nearly 21,000 tickets.'

'Deputy Director, Stephen Rubin says “Our patrons will find the quality of our presentations amidst the backdrop of our beautiful city makes this among the top destination film festivals in the country. We’ve attracted many new national sponsors including Heineken and CBS and we will continue to attract more as we expand into the future. We are proud to say that this is our strongest slate yet, based on higher quality submissions, more interest from major and international distributors, and more interest in people attending. Thanks to Festivals like ours and the nearly 2,000 world-wide, a whole new quality of films can gain exposure and offer patrons a substantive and original alternative to mainstream theaters.”'

In previous years, one of the films to get an advance screening at Santa Fe was Brokeback Mountain and, of course, this time around, the organisers are well aware that they have a major Hollywood production on its doorstep. According to The Alburquerque Tribune: 'A major film, "Brothers," is scheduled to begin shooting in Santa Fe this week, and three of the hottest young actors in Hollywood might be kicking around town during the film festival. "Brothers" stars Tobey Maguire, Jake Gyllenhaal and Natalie Portman. Festival Director Stephen Rubin isn't shying away from the celebrity factor. He says he has put out the word to other actors filming this month in New Mexico, including Samuel L. Jackson, Scarlett Johansson and Kyra Sedgwick, that they are welcome to hang out.'

Here is a picture of a Santa Fe market from the New Mexico Tourism Department, for all those like myself who know too little about this beautiful city.

Without doubt, Santa Fe is the place to be next week - this guy's about!

Saturday, November 17, 2007

News & Event Update

New Studio @ Traditions!
Tromadance New Mexico
Games in NM
More on Spirit at Albuquerque Studios
Jake Gyllenhall & Tobey Maguire in NM

More on all these (except the last one) below...

From Susan Stiger @ the Albuquerque Journal
Pass the popcorn. New Mexico is getting another film studio.
The Sandoval County Commission approved a planning and zoning change for ¡Traditions! Festival Marketplace from special use retail to film studio Thursday night, freeing a group out of California to transform the site into New Mexico Film Studios.
What was once the outlet mall, then festival marketplace, off the Budaghers exit on Interstate 25 went on the market early this year at a price of $8 million. Another $20 million to $25 million will turn it into New Mexico Film Studios: four soundstages and everything a producer and director need to make a movie— except actors.
"You walk in with a script. We help you find a producer/director (if you don't have them) and financing, you can headquarter there, use a soundstage and post-production," said Michael Harbert, a writer-producer moving from Los Angeles to be president and CEO. Harbert has written screenplays for "Law & Order," "ER" and "The West Wing," among others.
New Mexico Studios will start out with about half the filming space of New Mexico's other major movie studio— the $74 million Albuquerque Studios, south of Albuquerque International Sunport.

Also of note is the involvement of Worldscape & Pete Rogina, who you may have heard speak at last year's NM Media Industries Conference.
As of Thursday morning, New Mexico Studios included a newborn technology called immersive imaging created by New Jersey-based WorldScapes Inc., which will base its WorldScapes New Mexico on-site. Using a CamArray, a sea of overlapping cameras filming continuously, it creates a you-are-there-fully-surrounded experience now being used in military and law-enforcement training. WorldScapes already works with Los Alamos National Laboratory in research and development.
One prototype CamArray, with only 30 cameras, filmed at 1.2 billion pixels per second continually, said company president Peter Rogina. "We plan to build CamArrays with thousands of cameras to use at the studios and on location around the world," he said.
Rogina said he hopes to create 30 to 100 jobs here over the next 10 to 15 years.
More at the article:

From Dan Mayfield @ the Albuquerque Journal
Sure, we have a lot of big-time movies coming to shoot in New Mexico. Have you been Downtown to see the enormous “Game” set? Have you been out to Albuquerque Studios to see all the activity out there?
Big-time movies get the spotlight — but that’s not all that’s going on in the movie industry, especially in New Mexico.
Dozens of local folks are making movies every year, shorts and full-length features. These are small films, the kind the Governor’s Office doesn’t announce. They’re the kind that get made when a couple of guys scrape together a few bucks to pay the crew in cigarettes and beer.
Once a year, you get a chance to see some of these films at events like the TromaDance film festival, run by well-known horror-flick director Lloyd Kaufman. The event showcases the work of local filmmakers.
This year, Kaufman and the owner of Burning Paradise video, Kurly Tlapoyawa, will bring TromaDance Albuquerque to The Guild Cinema for the fourth year. The festival will show several locally made films: “Gimme Skelter” by Scott Phillips at 8:40 p.m. Saturday; “Necroville” by Billy Garberina at 8:50 p.m. Sunday; “The Faithful and the Foul” by Aaron Hendren at 7:25 p.m. Sunday; and “Land of Entrapment” by Craig Butler at 3:05 p.m. Sunday, as well as a host of short films by local folks.

A 2-part story from Megan Kamerick in the New Mexico Business Weekly checks in on New Mexico's growing game industry, both the companies that are growing and the educational programs that are being developed to meet their needs.

There's also a neat tidbit on *another* New Mexican who's making it big as a game player:
(from Greg Per\etti at the Albuquerque Journal)
Spike TV (cable channel 47) will air a one-hour Game Head special on Friday at 11 p.m., dedicated to the World Cyber Games 2007 Grand Final from Seattle.

During the Grand Final, Albuquerque's Jeremy Florence won the "Dead or Alive 4" title.

Jeremy Florence of Albuquerque bested Sweden's Niklas Lagerborg Saturday to take the "Dead or Alive 4" title at the World Cyber Games in Seattle, Wash.

In the championship match against Sweden, Florence wasted little time as he defeated his opponent 2-0. In the semifinals, Florence defeated teammate Carl “Perfect Legend” White, a rematch of the U.S. National Championship Final.

Finally, there's a lot out there on Will Eisner's the Spirit. Some of it is at:

Spirit in Albuquerque at MTV

I know I know... Will Eisner's The Spirit is getting press and pictures all over these days, because there are lots of great stories whether you like movie stars, innovative filmmakers, classic comic books, new technology -- or Albuquerque.

But I thought I should add this because it's from MTV:

ALBUQUERQUE, New Mexico — You have more objects in your living room than are present on the massive soundstage housing the production of "Will Eisner's 'The Spirit.' " The director is a Hollywood newcomer, on the verge of his 51st birthday. Samuel L. Jackson is wearing a black-and-white fur coat, with similarly colored eyebrows to match. Welcome to the set of Tinseltown's most unlikely potential blockbuster.

"This is the only way I have been trained to direct, and I love it because it brings [directing] closer to the art of the page," Frank Miller explained this week, moving from his "Sin City" co-directing apprenticeship to his very own Home-Depot-size warehouse drenched in green. "I am a kid in a candy store."

The candy store is called "Will Eisner's 'The Spirit,' " based on a 67-year-old character and the decades-long friendship Miller shared with its creator. Eisner may not have lived long enough to see actors like Jackson, Eva Mendes, Scarlett Johannson and Gabriel Macht bring his eccentric characters to the silver screen, but Miller still feels his presence every day.

"I was just 13 years old when I came across Will Eisner's 'The Spirit,' published by Jim Warren, and was blown away," the graphic novelist-turned-filmmaker remembered. "I thought it was somebody new to comics, because it was so far ahead of anything else coming out. I felt it, religiously. There was one night when I picked up the latest issue of 'The Spirit,' and I was so excited, I had to stop by a lamppost in Vermont where I lived and read it on the spot. That was the Sand Saref story, which is now the basis of this movie."

The plot revolves around one of comic-dom's oldest heroes, but there is no cape involved. The most expensive-looking prop to be seen is a patch of ground that the actors occasionally stand on, referred to as "the grassy knoll." Some might be inclined to wonder how all this is going to add up to make a decent movie, but be warned: The same questions were asked throughout the groundbreaking shoots of Miller's "Sin City" and "300."

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

On Set @ Spirit w/ Samuel L Jackson, Frank Miller & More

First of all, I wish... Spirit has been pretty tight, though I have heard of a lucky few who've made it on set.

But folks in the comic book/movie world are visiting, and sending reports.

The article at
includes all sorts of good tidbits, an interview with the Spirit himself and director Frank Miller...

I was headed to Albuquerque, New Mexico for another set visit. Two, actually. The first was "Will Eisner's The Spirit". A green screen extravaganza being directed by Frank Miller. It is based on an old comic book, and stars Gabriel Macht as The Spirit and Samuel L. Jackson as the Octopus. Also appearing in the film are Louis Lombardi and Eva Mendes. Not much is known about the exact plot, but when I interviewed Mendes a few months back for We Own the Night, she seemed extremely excited about the project. She is playing femme fatale Sand Saref in the film. The screenplay is derived mostly from her storyline in the comics. The second set visit was for the untitled Mark Neveldine and Brian Taylor thriller formerly known as Game, which stars Gerard Butler. But more on that in the next column over.

The first stop we made upon arriving at Albuquerque Studios, home of Will Eisner's The Spirit, was the catering tent. I picked up my plastic plate and went down the line. Pork. Fried chicken. Shrimp tostada. Sam Jackson. The actor stood at the plastic salad trough. He picked through a bucket of sliced fruit, still in costume. He studied each piece of pineapple before carefully putting it on his plate. He then studied some cantaloupe. I'm not sure if he is a method actor. Maybe he was still in character. This was the first look I'd gotten of The Octopus; Master Villain. I won't be able to watch his performance now without thinking about his salad selections. The guy was spooky.

A circle of dots rested directly in the middle of his forehead. He was wearing white eye shadow, and his eyebrows were trimmed in the most unusual fashion. He wore a scarf, and a long sleeve red cotton shirt. Thick black glasses obscured his eyes. Best of all, he was wearing a pair of black patent leather boots and a pair of black patent leather genie pants. As The Octopus is not really seen in the comic books, except for his gloved hands, this was Frank Miller's interpretation of the character.

More at superheroflix...

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Defining Animation

Variety talks with Sony Pictures Imageworks VP Barry Weiss about how the Academy defines 'animation'

"Since the (Oscar) category was first created, the challenge has been to define what is an animated film," says Barry Weiss, a senior VP at Sony Pictures Imageworks and member of the executive committee of the Academy's animation branch. "Not a year goes by when we're not trying to clarify a certain section of the rule."

In fact, the Academy recently changed its definition of an animated feature, in anticipation of a certain kind of film that may look like animation but really isn't.

"In defining what an animated film is, the consistent thinking in the branch has been that the thing we need to hold onto is the performance of the characters," Weiss says. "In the creation of the visual look of the film, the only thing we can call our own is the characters. That is the department of the film that is uniquely the domain of animation and animators. Again, I'm being a purist here, but animation is the art of creating a character that otherwise doesn't exist."

Yet thanks to the march of technology, even that concept has its gray areas.

The Acad's new rules specify: An animated feature must be at least 70 minutes long; "a significant number of the major characters must be animated"; their movement and performances "are created using a frame-by-frame technique"; and animation must figure in no less than 75% of the film's running time.

Even a rule as simple as that 75% requirement is complicated in practice. Last year's "Arthur and the Invisibles," which mixed animation sequences with live action, was ruled out because its animation didn't reach the 75% mark. "Literally we took a stopwatch to the thing," Weiss says.

The new language exempts films like "A Scanner Darkly," in which live-action footage is altered to look like drawings, unless animators do major work altering the actors' performances.

The same requirement ruled out "Team America," which was submitted to the animated feature category. "We said no, those aren't animated characters, those are puppeted," Weiss says. "The art of animation is the art of creating these non-existent characters on a frame-by-frame basis, rather than pointing a camera at a puppet in real time."

The impetus behind this rule change is the growth of motion-capture animation.

Last year, the Academy gave animated-film honors to "Happy Feet," which had a significant mo-cap component, and Sony's all mo-cap "Monster House" got a nomination. So the Academy's animation branch has no beef with motion capture per se.

But Academy executive director Bruce Davis explains, "What they're trying to do is to make a distinction between a kind of pure motion capture, where nothing is done to the footage after it's shot, and techniques where there is some (keyframe) work after an initial motion-capture phase."

Nonetheless, this fall's big mo-cap release, "Beowulf," may stump the rules -- or at least have the Acad asking the filmmakers to answer a few questions.

With mo-cap, actors' performances are "captured" digitally as coordinates in space rather than photographed on a light-sensitive emulsion, but they are captured nonetheless. So while the images shown on the screen may be created in a computer, the characters are, in a sense, live action.

"It does seem to be clear that we're looking at a new form of cinema altogether, doesn't it?" says "Beowulf" producer Steve Starkey. "That's what everybody's slowly circling around, that the movies we make don't fit into a genre type in this big thing we call motion pictures. It came on so fast that it defies categorization."

Starkey has worked with director Robert Zemeckis since "Who Framed Roger Rabbit" (another notable live-action/animation hybrid), and says of the helmer: "He has made a life commitment to this form of cinema. He finds that it is the closest thing from writing and imagining what he sees to being able to show it visually on the bigscreen."

With motion capture, Starkey says, Zemeckis is able to concentrate on getting his actors' performances first, without having to bother with placing the camera, lighting the scene, etc. Later, he can choose to put the "camera" anywhere, lighting and decorating the scene digitally.

But such advances are exactly what worries the Acad's animation branch. As Weiss explains, "If the technology were ever to get to the point where you go on the motion-capture set, you do your performance with your cast, and that is the sum total of how the performance is created, it becomes akin to puppeteering."

Full article here:

Thursday, November 8, 2007

NM in 3D for "Dark Country"

Screen Actor Thomas Jane's directorial debut will be here in New Mexico...

From Film School Rejects, here's an excerpt:

As Jane told ShockTilYouDrop in June, Dark Country follows a couple who are driving across the desert from Las Vegas. “They come across a body in the road who seems to be a terrible accident,” Jane elaborated. “He’s still alive, so they pick him up and try to find a hospital. The guy wakes up in the backseat terrified and freaked-out, wondering if people are after him. [The couple are] trying to get the story out of him but he’s been horribly wounded. He’s just a mess, broken and bloody. He starts talking all paranoid and then attacks the husband. Tries to kill him. They almost crash the car. The husband - our hero - picks up a rock and ends up killing the guy and they don’t know what to do with him. So, they start to panic and bury him out in the desert. Everything goes downhill from there.”

Jane will also star in the project, which is being produced by Raw Entertainment, a company that Jane created alongside 30 Days of Night scribe Steve Niles and acclaimed artist Tim Bradstreet. Lauren German (Hostel: Part II) will also star.

Of course, the most interesting thing about Dark Country is that it will be shot for 3D. Jane has enlisted a company called Paradise FX who have worked on films such as Terminator 3D to bring this R-rated adult-oriented thriller to life. When speaking of the 3D aspect, Jane stressed that they will be steering clear of the 3D gags that audiences experienced at the height of 3D in the late-’80s. “We’re going for the effect that Hitchcock used when he made ‘Dial M for Murder’ than what we saw in Vincent Price’s ‘House of Wax.’ It’s a more sophisticated use of the technology which is what we’re striving for.” In a word: cool.

Production has begun on The Dark Country in the desert of New Mexico. Joined by Director of Photography Geoff Boyle, Tim Bradstreet and producers from Sony’s Stage 6 films, Jane has been scouting various locations. Bradstreet has been blogging it all via a Production Diary, which can be found here.
More info and production photos at the site:

Incentives keep NM in the news

For an overview of incentive programs, there's a good article in today's Backstage (which highlights Louisiana and New Mexico's programs... and how nice Wilmington is).

Some of the basics are below, but for more, visit the article here.

When looking at the specifics of the incentives offered by each state, it's useful to get a primer on the broad definitions of what sort of lures are offered. According to the Axium report, production companies need to be familiar with several key bits of terminology when researching enticements.

A "certified credit" is an investment tool, one that has been approved by the state for sale to investors. A "loan-out company" works as something of a headhunting service in the filming location, providing contacts of qualified actors and crew. A "qualified expense" is one that each individual state allows to be included when a rebate or credit calculation is made. A "refundable credit" is a payment made by the state to the production company, given that the production company doesn't owe any income tax and that a verifiable tax return has already been filed. Finally, there is the "transferable credit," one that may be transferred one or more times and is applied against a taxpayer's state income tax.

It's a lot of jargon, but knowing the ropes can truly help productions, according to Jeff Begun, who wrote the 2007 report for Axium. "Five years ago, it went from no incentives to a lot," he says. "New states are getting into it, amounts that are being given are going up, and regulations are being refined."

Read the full article, With Incentives, Filmmakers Remain Stateside

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

NMITSA IT Excellence... & Games

I don't know if you've taken a look at the NMITSA IT Excellence Awards Finalists for 2007, but this year's nominees include some of the key people and organizations behind our media industries' continued growth. Eric Witt and the NM State Investment Council are among the nominees -- and we were also surprised and happy to see many key players in our local International Game Developers Association on the list (GPS/Abalone Studios, Sandia National Laboratories – (Adaptive Thinking and Leadership Simulation) and Novint are all recognized -- and I'm honored to be nominated as well).

While much of the concentration -- and success -- of the Media Industries Strategy Project has been with film making, working with the community represented by the New Mexico Information Technology & Software Association (NMITSA) is extremely important to our continued growth. While we can argue whether game play will become our society's dominant form of entertainment, having a feel for the game development process (which they share more with making and publishing software than with producing film). As forms of media converge their definitions blur, electronic games are still considered part of the software family, and share much of the software development process.

The importance -- or potential importance -- of Game Development was really brought home last Thursday night when we had a great talk from Radical Entertainment President Kelly Zmak at the IGDA membership kick-off meeting (many of the folks listed above were there, btw). 

Talking on what it takes to build a viable & sustainable game industry in north America, many of his points were familiar to at least a few of us there in the audience; most are addressed in the Media Industries Strategic Plan.

We'll be posting more information on the Albuquerque IGDA site, but here are some quick highlights for now.


This was, to me, the through-line of his talk, drilling down on the importance of the following:
Talking through some of his personal experiences with each group or topic, the bottom line was that all of these must be present -- and working in concert -- to create the conditions for success.


As part of the "Talent Base" topic he highlighted the shared set of skills and interests of the following groups:
People working in each of these areas often have an interest in the others, and vice versa, and while not all the skills in a field may be transferable, having these kinds of people (and jobs) creates a bigger talent pool to draw from.  Since New Mexico is already pretty strong in technology-related fields, and our capabilities in entertainment media are growing stronger, we have good basic conditions to take advantage of this convergence (but we still need to do more to build both personal and professional connections between these groups).


To me, this was the key point.  Discussing Vancouver's 13 (16?) year journey to becoming one of North America's centers for media development (including 131 game production companies -- and a giant like EA), he noted that Vancouver had fewer specific strengths going for it when they started than New Mexico does now.

Taking the long view (and broadening the idea a bit) emphasizes the need to have students learning the tools they'll be working with as early as possible. As the length of time elementary school kids spend on games surpasses time spent watching movies and TV, we can use this to encourage a more active role for our youth, as participants and creators rather than as passive audience members.  To mix metaphors a bit, including principles of digital literacy early is essential to having a sustainable industry. 

There's more, of course, so one final note for the moment. Revenues for the digital entertainment industry are expected to double in the next three years, from $32B to $65B with the game sector leading the way. Choosing how we allocate our various resources will decide whether we share in that growth or not.

On 10/26/07, Webb Johnson <> wrote:
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NMITSA Announces 2007 New Mexico IT Excellence Awards Finalists


[Albuquerque, NM, OCT 26, 2007] – The New Mexico Information Technology and Software Association (NMITSA), the state's largest advocacy group for IT & software related business, announced today the finalists for this year's IT Excellence Awards.  Companies from across New Mexico took part in this year's competition, which seeks the best and most successful implementation of an IT or software solution, across several categories, produced by a New Mexico-based company or organization.  Solution Awards will be presented in eight categories:  Commercial Software, Custom Software, Innovative Research, Integrated Systems, IT Infrastructure, IT Support, Hardware and Embedded Systems, and Internet Solutions. In addition, four achievement awards will be presented to individuals and organizations that have made extraordinary contributions to industry leadership, support, and promotion of IT in education throughout the state.


Sponsored in part by the New Mexico Business Weekly, News Radio 770 KKOB AM, and Sandia National Laboratories, the third annual IT Excellence Awards will be held in Albuquerque on November 15th, 2007 at the Embassy Suites, from 6 to 10 PM.


The leaders of New Mexico's information technology community will join for a gala evening to recognize and celebrate excellence and technical achievement in the New Mexico IT industry.  Jim Villanucci, comedian and host of the most listened to radio show in New Mexico will host the evening. Jeff Barr, web services evangelist from will keynote the event.  NMITSA has made tickets available on its website at


NMITSA – 2007 IT Excellence Solution Awards Finalists:


Commercial Software

·        ABC Coding Solutions –

·        Avistar – Wireless Substation Monitoring

·        Ultramain Systems – efbFlightLogs


Custom Software

·        Infotech Support – Wesstcorp Microenterprise Support Tool

·        New Mexico State University – UNO Project: Changing the Culture of a University in Three Years with an ERP Project

·        POD – Public Education Automated Budget Management System (ABMS)


Innovative Research

·        ABC Coding Solutions –

·        Sandia National Laboratories – Adaptive Thinking and Leadership Simulation

·        WESST Corp – ezSEO


Integrated Systems

·        Game Production Services, LLC dba Abalone Studios – Future Combat Systems Mobile Demonstration Trailer (FCS MDT)

·        Lumidigm – Unified Development Platform for Multi-Sensor Integration

·        POD – Public Education Automated Budget Management System (ABMS)


IT Infrastructure

·        Blue Jay Enterprises – Santa Fe Public Schools QMOE Project

·        Sandia National Laboratories – Collaborative Conference Rooms

·        Technology Integration Group – SNL Razor Cluster


IT Support

·        First Community Bank – Virtualization of the Corporate Desktop Using Softgrid and Citrix

·        Pat Campbell Insurance – A Business Ready Network

·        Sandia National Laboratories – Internal Web Redesign


Hardware and Embedded Systems

·        Avistar – Wireless Substation Monitoring

·        Lumidigm – Venus Series Embedded Processing for Performance and Security

·        Novint Technologies – The Novint Falcon


Internet Solutions

·        ABC Coding Solutions –

·        New Mexico State University – UNO Project: Changing the Culture of a University in Three Years with an ERP Project

·        Ultramain Systems – efbFlightLogs



NMITSA – 2007 IT Excellence Achievement Award Nominees:


Industry Leadership

·        Andrew L. Baca, President and CEO, Abba Technologies, Inc.

·        Eclipse Aviation

·        Gigablast

·        Eric Whitmore, Program Coordinator, UNM ARTS (Art, Research, Technology & Science) Lab


Nominees for Achievement in Industry Support

·        New Mexico State Investment Council

·        Jane Pelz, Webmaster, Sandia Laboratory Federal Credit Union

·        Technology Ventures Corporation

·        Eric Witt, Director of Media Industries Development, NM Governor Richardson's Office


Nominees for Achievement in Information Technology in Education – Organization

·        The Ibero-American Science and Technology Education Consortium

·        Sequoia Solutions

·        The Uptime Institute


Nominees for Achievement in Information Technology in Education – Individual

·        Michael Hites, Vice President and CIO, New Mexico State University

·        John Phaklides, Technology Director, Santa Fe Public Schools

·        Tom Ryan, Executive Director of Technology, Albuquerque Public Schools

·        Jonathan Wolfe, President, Fractal Foundation








New Mexico Information Technology & Software Association

Post Office Box 4125

Albuquerque, NM  87106

(505) 615-0250


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For more information about NM Media-related Events, visit:

Eric Renz-Whitmore, Program Coordinator

Saturday, October 20, 2007

NM Media Blogs & Sites, Part 1

Every once in a while we like to scan the area for different groups and blogs that are connecting people in the Media industries and talking about local production. Here's an update...

Kurly's Burning Blog
Blog from one of the leaders of New Mexico's Zombie/Horror industry -- and Burning Paradise owner -- and TromaDance NM producer, and...

Film New Mexico Blog
Updates from the NM film Office, Albuquerque Film Office and other sites...

Burquewood: Film Production in Albuquerque-Land
Local shoots and casting calls, wide-ranging, but with an emphasis on horror

Film Extras Blogspot: Da Flikkers
Life as an extra in the New Mexico film industry

Steve Terrell's Blog
Politics and Music from this Santa Fe New Mexican Reporter

Outside New Mexico...

On Location Vacations
Shots and news from a variety of film set locations around the world

Hawaii Film Office
Of course all the film offices and film commissions are interested in what we're doing -- but they seem to be making a special effort to check us out.

Friday, October 19, 2007

Helen Mirren (and Taylor Hackford) to shoot in New Mexico

Hosting the AFCI event (among other things) continues to pay off for New Mexico, with the announcement that keynote speaker Taylor Hackford will shoot here in Albuquerque, starting in January...

From the New Mexico Business Weekly
Taylor Hackford to Direct Film in Albuquerque
by Megan Kamerick

Director Taylor Hackford, who was recently in New Mexico to participate in the Association of Film Commissioners International meeting, will film his new movie here.

Called "Love Ranch," it will star Hackford's wife, Helen Mirren (who won an Oscar this year for the "The Queen"), and Joe Pesci, also an Oscar winner (for his role in "Goodfellas").

Game Transforms Downtown Albuquerque

If you've been in downtown Albuquerque these past few days, you've probably noticed it -- and 'it' is pretty cool. Also cool is the work they're doing to track camera position and shots so the Container City they've built can be seamlessly integrated into similar structures or 3D modeled environments.

Of course, I actually like seeing familiar spots even when buildings have been added as in The Lost Room, but I know I'm intrigued enough to see Game when it arrives.

From the New Mexico Business Weekly:
New Film Creates Container City in Downtown Albuquerque
by Megan Kamerick

If you've been wondering about that odd-looking structure of cargo containers rising on Silver Avenue between Second and Fourth streets Downtown, it's all because Albuquerque's got "Game."

That's the new film that will star Gerard Butler, headliner of the blockbuster film "300." Michael Umble, publicist for the film, says he realizes that there can be some tension when movies take over parts of cities, sometimes restricting access to streets. But, he adds, the production will do about $11 million in local spending during the shoot.


Umble says the structure underway on Silver, which includes two 3-story wooden frames and an untold number of cargo containers, will simply be called Container City and is a futuristic housing project for the down-and-out in the film's unnamed urban milieu. It will be used for shooting periodically over the next two months. Currently, that part of Silver is closed to traffic and Umble says the production has worked with local film officials to make sure there are alternate access routes. The production schedule is structured so that a good portion of the shooting will be done on weekends, he says.

to read the rest of the article, visit:
New Film Creates Container City in Downtown Albuquerque

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

More Coverage on High Desert Hollywood

Maybe I'm prone to the syndrome where voices from outside New Mexico have more relevance... I don't know, but I do think an outside perspective can be refreshing... And if you'll take a look, this blog has a number of insights important to those of us interested in the media convergence and the evolution of media business...

From The Intangible Economy

Creating a film industry - outside of Hollywood

Creating a new industry or capturing an old one is the Holy Grail of local economic development. In today's economy, that usually means going after the next hot thing -- "ABC"-tech. But there is a high-profile existing industry that local leaders swoon over: the film industry. Everyone gets excited when the movies come to town to make a picture. My own recent example was spending half a day waiting to see a car blown up at DC's Eastern Market, which was made over to look like a market in Amsterdam.

The real trick, however, isn't luring the one-off movie-shoot. It is creating a sustaining film industry. One of few who have been able to do it recently is New Mexico. As a recent story in Spirit Magazine (High-desert Hollywood) relates:

But the latest Hollywood influx is not about pleasure. It’s about business. And much of it happened because of one man: Governor Bill Richardson.

Richardson came into office in 2003, telling New Mexicans that the state needed to attract new businesses and making the film industry a priority growth target for the state. Then he convinced the state government to roll out an incentive package for filmmakers. Today, as many as 32 states offer similar perks, but few are as established or as generous as New Mexico’s. They include a 50 percent reimbursement of wages for on-the-job training of state residents, a tax rebate of 25 percent on all direct costs and labor (or no sales tax on most production costs), and a film investment loan program that offers no-interest loans for up to $15 million.

. . .

The state started small, chasing low-budget indie films before moving into bigger productions that had been shooting abroad and finally courting repeat films and longer series TV productions. At all times, one constant guided the state: “We approached it like a business,” says Eric Witt, director of media arts and industries for the governor. “It had to make money for New Mexico.

"Repeat films and longer series TV productions" That means a sustainable industry with a host of specialized jobs for locals and more economic activity that simply catering to the out-of-town cast and crew:

Until the industry matures, the local jobs lifted from Hollywood won’t last long. Recognizing this stark economic reality, all of the states and countries courting the industry hope to build a self-sustaining film culture, from homegrown filmmakers in high schools to professional digital animators. But New Mexico figured that out first.

Read more here:

Also... what do you think about High Desert Hollywood?

We're also the subject of a nice write-up in Southwest Airlines' inflight magazine Spirit (I 'd thought it was related to the movie), which you can read here.

In the meantime though, an excerpt:
Of course, New Mexico and the other places courting value-minded moviemakers (see “The Next Hollywood?” on page 132) will never displace Tinseltown. Its concentration of money, production assets, and creative talent will allow L.A. to remain the entertainment capital of the world. But with a raft of incentives, a growing band of industry pros, state-of-the-art facilities, and a topography that runs from frozen tundra to scorching bleakness, the Land of Enchantment could become “Hollywood Southwest.” Expect fewer film crews to wrap with martinis in L.A. and more to celebrate with margaritas in New Mexico.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

New Mexico's Form Z Connection

We were very pleased to hear that the design project the Duke City Shootout undertook with UNM's School of Architecture and Planning had won honorable mention in the Fabrication Category. From Z is one of the cooler 3D design tools available -- and Professor Tim Castillo, who'd led the Shootout's Insomnia Lounge Design Project for UNM -- had shown me a good bit of their student work last year.

Looking a little closer at the page, though (it's here:, I see that this wasn't the only successful project for UNM, or New Mexico's only connection. Seems Arturo Nunez, who was a pleasure to work with on the Insomnia Lounge Design also won the Award of Distinction in this category. I really suggest you take a look and watch the videos...

The Shootout project was, in my opinion, part of the essence of what we're trying to do with the ARTS Lab, the Shootout, and New Mexico's Media Industries Strategy Project in some ways: involving students in projects that stretch their skills and employ the latest in process and technology; taking an interdisciplinary approach to its fruition in design, build, use and publication.

It was an exciting process, and fun to see the evolution of thinking and design from Tim's student teams. Many thanks to Reggie, Grubb and Leann from the Shootout team, and thanks and congratulations to Tim Castillo and all of the students who participated.